A Personal View (for what its worth)
What is my worst problem with blogging? I make mistakes. When I am not careful enough, I can forget to include one word in a sentence, like “not”, for example. Then the entire meaning of that sentence can change, and I will have embarrassed myself. Therefore, I strain against my own laziness and against time constraints, and I try to proofread my posts and my comments carefully.
Yet try as I might, I still make mistakes. What is my saving grace? I do not have a position worthy of note. Nobody can remove me from any public office. I don’t even get paid for blogging. Therefore, even though I cannot maintain a zero tolerance policy against mistakes, I can still blog and communicate my beliefs.
Others are not so fortunate. That’s especially true of Republicans officeholders. What happens when a Republican says or writes something, and it comes out wrong? The news media gleefully reports the matter, and Republicans officials, fearful of not being seen on the “right side of the issue,” call for their fellow Republican’s head on platter. Isn’t wonderful to have such loyal friends and allies?
Another Republican Party Feud
What’s the latest controversy over a verbal mishap? I first read about it at The Mason Conservative. Here is the post: We Need To Clean Our Own House. And what hideous crime against the English language did Chris report? Bob FitzSimmonds said something that should have drawn laughter, not condemnation. When he intended to use the word twaddle, he used the word twat. Oops! 😳
I’m not entirely sure what he is trying to say, the syntax is especially Facebooky. But folks, just so you know, not only has Bob FitzSimmonds run multiple times for office … he is the current RPV Treasurer! I don’t know him well, we’ve engaged in debate on Facebook .. but we can’t have this shit anymore! It is killing us! He posted this over an hour ago and hasn’t had any response since them, despite pleading to apologize. (from here)
Think about that first clause. “I’m not entirely sure what he is trying to say….” All that excitement and a four-letter word over what was obviously a stupid mistake? Have FitzSimmonds‘ accusers bothered to consider what he was trying to say? Should we wonder why they do not seem to care?
What was predicable has happened. Here in Update: Va. GOP official apologizes for genital slang “error” Pilot on Politics reports the story. Naturally, Pilot on Politics dug up whatever it could to insinuate a pattern of conduct. Thus, Pilot on Politics FitzSimmonds is guilty of being a Republican.
What did FitzSimmonds actually do? He harmed no one but himself. He just made himself — not someone else — look foolish.
Is FitzSimmonds a loyal Republican? Is he competent? Is he an honorable individual? Yes. Yes. And yes. Then what is the point of asking him to resign?
Unfortunately, the leadership of the Republican Party is also behaving predictably. Chairman Pat Mullins has called for FitzSimmonds to resign (see Va. Republican leaders call on GOP party treasurer to resign over Facebook post).
Predictably, Republicans have escalated a foolish mistake out of all proportion. Does Mullins intend to replace FitzSimmonds with someone whose words are always perfect? When we are talking about human beings and our traitorous tongues, who save the deaf and dumb can survive a zero tolerance tolerance policy that prohibits poorly chosen words? Chairman Pat Mullins has never made a dumb verbal mistake? He has? Then perhaps he should set the example and resign.
Instead of eating our own — and firing FitzSimmonds — perhaps we should reconsider. What are we trying to accomplish? Is our object — the Republican Party’s object — to select the best candidates (in this instance to run in the 10th Congressional District) or to ban the word “twat” and all those other four-letter words from the English language?
Does the Republican Party want to be the word police? No? Nevertheless, instead of our candidates we are now focused on a silly word that just a few days ago hardly any of us would have recognized.
If we are going fire people for silly verbal mishaps, we may as well give up on campaigning for public office. Because there are no perfect people, we will spend more time worrying about how we communicate than what we communicate. If we insist upon zero tolerance of mistakes, we will not permit our candidates to say what they mean and mean what they say. Our own zero tolerance policy will not permit them to take such a risk.
What Do Democrats Do?
How do our opponents handle such matters? How often do Democrats put their feet in their mouths? Don’t they in fact say and write the most outrageous nonsense, but do their fellow Democrats gang up on them and call for their resignations? No, of course they don’t, but why not? Is it just because most of the news media supports Democrats? Perhaps, but why should Republicans care what the news media thinks? The news media doesn’t like us, and everybody already knows it.
When we know FitzSimmonds meant no harm and just made a foolish mistake, calling for his resignation is plainly unjust. And doing it to appease a partisan news media just makes that injustice stupidly pointless.
What Does The Bible Suggest?
As usual there is passage in the Bible that fits the situation. When the Pharisees who opposed Him tried to use an adulterous woman as a proxy to entrap him, Jesus turned their trap back on them.
John 8:3-7 Authorized (King James) Version (AKJV)
3 And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, 4 they say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. 5 Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou? 6 This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. 7 So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.
Which of us is fit to cast that first stone? Which of us has not put his foot in his mouth? Jesus told that frightened woman to go and sin no more, but which of us can guarantee we will never say what we did not intend to say?
We punish the guilty to prevent crime. We don’t punish people just to get someone out of our way.
This Is Not The First Time
- twat (n.)
- female pudendum, 1650s, of unknown origin. A general term of abuse since 1920s.
The T-word occupies a special niche in literary history, however, thanks to a horrible mistake by Robert Browning, who included it in ‘Pippa Passes’ (1841) without knowing its true meaning. ‘The owls and bats,/Cowls and twats,/Monks and nuns,/In a cloister’s moods.’ Poor Robert! He had been misled into thinking the word meant ‘hat’ by its appearance in ‘Vanity of Vanities,’ a poem of 1660, containing the treacherous lines: ‘They’d talk’t of his having a Cardinalls Hat,/They’d send him as soon an Old Nuns Twat.’ (There is a lesson here about not using words unless one is very sure of their meaning.) [Hugh Rawson, “Wicked Words,” 1989]
- Better Yet, Let’s Stop Calling People Twats: Here Shaun Kenney seems to be arguing good political strategy is more important that doing the right thing.
- Twit Say Twat Means Twaddle: Does namecalling Frank Moraes intend to use the masculine form of “twat”?
- What a Difference a Letter Can Make!: The Virginia Gentleman observed: “I miss the days when we debated issues, and allowed people to make mistakes.”
- The Weekly Screed (#665)You gonna argue with a guy named Hensleigh Wedgwood?: David Benjamin also observed Robert Browning made a similar mistake. He also contemplates his own human frailty and the virtue of learning from each others mistakes.
Note also several posts at THE BULL ELEPHANT. The titles of Jamie Radtke Joins the Chorus Urging Bob FitzSimmonds Not to Resign and Howie Lind Calls on Bob FitzSimmonds Not to Resign State Central Committee by Jeanine Martin explain the natures of these posts. Wasinger Campaign Calls Barbara Comstock “Raging Bitch”: UPDATED by Steve Albertson provides suggests we should be more concerned with premeditated insults.